The first public school in present-day Rhode Island was established at Newport in 1640. Although it was short-lived, a number of private schools were subsequently opened. Although state laws providing for a statewide public school system were passed in 1800 and repealed in 1803, a public school system was created and maintained in Providence. State legislation enacted in 1828 effectively arranged for statewide public education, with state aid for local schools. In the 1840s the noted educator Henry Barnard conducted a survey of Rhode Island’s public schools and succeeded in obtaining major education reforms. The so-called Barnard school law, which was passed by the state legislature in 1845, instituted a progressive, centralized state school system with statewide standards for instruction.
School attendance is compulsory in Rhode Island for all children from the age of 6 to 16. Parochial and other private schools enroll 17 percent of the state’s children.
In the 2004–2005 school year Rhode Island spent $13,509 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,910. There were 13.3 students for every teacher, giving the state one of the smallest average class sizes in the nation, where the average was 15.5 students per teacher. Of those older than 25 years of age in 2007, 83 percent had a high school diploma; the country as a whole averaged 84.5 percent.
The oldest institution of higher education in Rhode Island is Brown University, in Providence.
Chartered in 1764 as Rhode Island College, it was the first college to be founded in Rhode Island and the seventh to be established in the United States. Originally located in Warren, it was moved to Providence in 1770 and received its present name in 1804. The Rhode Island School of Design, which is also located in Providence, includes divisions providing instruction in fine arts, architecture, and textiles. In Newport is the U.S. Naval War College, which provides specialized postgraduate instruction for commissioned officers in the armed forces of the United States and its allies. The state-supported University of Rhode Island was founded in 1892 as Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Originally established as a land-grant college, the university was also designated as a sea-grant college in 1971.
In addition to its main campus in Kingston, the university maintains campuses in Providence and other communities in the state. Rhode Island College, in Providence, is also a state supported institution, as is the Community College of Rhode Island, which has campuses in Providence, Warwick, and Lincoln. Other noted institutions include Johnson & Wales University and Providence College, both in Providence; Roger Williams College, in Bristol; and Salve Regina University, in Newport. In 2006–2007 the state had 3 public and 11 private institutions of higher learning. "Rhode Island" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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